Thank you, Electronics Goldmine

I admit it, I have an addiction to things that call themselves bargains. Down in the basement are multiple cubic feet of random electronic and mechanical components that looked like a good idea or might be useful someday or just seemed like too good a deal to pass up. 25 Magnets with holes in them. 100 trim pots that almost fit breadboard spacing. 500 sets of 3 green LED in some kind of indicator mounting…

Some of these things I have found a use for, like the hall-effect sensors or the optical interrupters. Others I probably never will, like the 20-watt 10-ohm resistors. But last week my addiction did me proud.

After about 15 years of use, the good kitchen thermometer stopped working. You know, the kind where you poke the tiny tip into meat or bread or sugar syrup and get an instant, accurate reading. The kind that takes a weird battery size that no one used to stock. It just didn’t work any more. Didn’t turn on, even with a fresh battery.

So what the heck, I pulled off the stickers over the screws and opened it up, and found that it occasionally did work when you pushed on the body just right. There’s a sweet cam-and-microswitch arrangement that turns the thermometer on when you rotate the probe away from the body. Oh, and the microswitch had green corrosion coming out of its case. Hmm.

Yep, when I shorted the contacts, the thermometer turned on just fine. But how to repair or replace the switch?

Oh, wait. A tray of 100 of the smallest microswitches you ever saw for $5. So tempting that I forgot about the first tray I bought and got another one a year later. And be careful opening it up, or they go everywhere. Clipped the leads on the old, dead switch so they stood up from the circuit board. Butted the leads on a microswitch against those. Soldered, bent the switch actuator out a bit to meet the cam. Done.

Every now and then all that crap in the basement comes in handy. And if this switch corrodes, I’ve got another 190 where it came from…

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